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California. This state, often derisively referred to as the "People's Republic of California," has a reputation as a wee-bit left-leaning. It might come as a surprise to some, then, that the state's high court is actually almost exclusively made up of Republican appointees, and is seen by many as a moderate to conservative court.

That might be changing soon, however, with Gov. Jerry Brown expected to nab a second term in the fall. Not only does he have a vacancy to fill from Justice Joyce Kennard's retirement last week, but there are a few other spots that could be opening up during the governor's second term.

Well, his odds of a successful run for Secretary of State just diminished greatly.

State Sen. Leland Yee, one of the most well-known California lawmakers, was arrested this morning on bribery charges, while houses and office buildings were raided throughout the Bay Area and Sacramento. Also arrested was Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, reportedly the head of Ghee Kung Tong, a fraternal organization in San Francisco's Chinatown.

According to ABC 7, Chow's rap sheet dates back to 1978, but he has been out of prison for more than a decade after claiming that he'd turned his life around. Authorities believe he may be a local leader of a Hong Kong-base crime syndicate.

Safeway, a major grocery store chain that every Californian knows, is being bought up by competitor Albertsons.

Also operating under the name Vons or Pavilions in the Golden State, Safeway is merging with Albertsons in a deal estimated at over $9 million, reports CNNMoney. But the deal won't be finalized until the end of the year, and Safeway has some settlement deals to wrap up first.

It's not only award season for actors, but also for attorneys.

Earlier this week we announced that InsideCounsel's Transformative Leadership Awards are accepting nominations, and now we want to let you know that the State Bar of California is now accepting nominations for outstanding lawyers.

The purpose of the awards is to "honor[] members of the legal community who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the profession." Here is a breakdown of some of the awards that are open for nominations.

Happy 10th Anniversary!

On February 12, 2004, then-Mayor (now Lieutenant Governor) Gavin Newsom decided to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, calling it a "fundamental right." According to The Associated Press, 4,000 couples were married over the following month before the California Supreme Court stepped in and voided the marriages.

It took another nine years before gay marriage would be legal in California, but those 4,000 marriages were an important step towards the present day, when it seems every week, another state is joining the marriage equality movement.

With so many legal issues brewing in the state of California, it's hard to settle on just one. Between the ongoing drought and water shortage in California, new civil rights lawsuits and federal challenges to state laws, there's a lot to talk about. So let's get to it and see what all the headlines are about.

Voting Rights of Ex-Felons

On Tuesday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in Alameda County seeking declaratory injunctive relief on behalf of ex-felons that fall under new categories of low-level felons under realignment, according to KQED.

Useless piece of trivia: one-third of all eggs produced in Missouri are sold in California.

Why are we tossing such eggstremely useless statistics at you? Well, that little nugget of trivia is at the heart of a lawsuit filed by the "Show Me State" against the "Golden State." The lawsuit also pits two stereotypes against each other: Missouri farmers fighting California regulators.

And as an added bonus, the central issue is a somewhat rare interstate commerce clause argument.

Is there a more maligned state project right now than California's High Speed Rail project?

It started as a great idea: a relatively cheap train would go straight from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 160 minutes. State funding would be limited to $9.95 billion in bonds, with the rest coming from federal and private funding. All funding and environmental reports would be done before construction.

That's what voters signed up for. Unfortunately, that's not what is currently in the works. Back in August, a judge ruled against the California High Speed Rail Authority, ordering them to come up with something more than a hypothetical plan to cover the now-$68 billion cost.

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court ordered an expedited review of that ruling, as well as a later ruling, that may have all but derailed the project.

In a narrative nearly as compelling as those penned by Stephen Glass himself, the California Supreme Court just eviscerated the author of largely fictionalized magazine articles that were initially presented as fact-based journalism. He now seeks bar admission.

Will the journalist-turned law graduate ever gain admission to the bar? And has he really changed?

"We are rationing justice, and it has become more than a fiscal problem. It is, in my view, it is now a civil rights problem. ... We know we are denying the protections of an American democracy."

The rhetoric, justified or not, is flowing hard after Gov. Jerry Brown released a budget plan that, despite a $105 million increase in court funding, will do little to keep our court system from teetering on collapse. (Existing pension and benefit costs will eat up most of the increase.) Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye's rhetorical flourish was accompanied by her own plan, the "A Three-Year Blueprint for a Fully Functioning Judicial Branch."